Estate Planning Blog

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Using Powers of Attorney in Financial and Estate Planning

In addition to a Power of Attorney giving an agent authority to make health care decisions, a separate Power of Attorney should also give the agent authority to act on behalf of the person granting the power (principal) in business and financial matters in the event of the principal's disability.  These can be part of the same document, but the better practice is to keep the financial power of attorney and medical power of attorney separate.

A Louisiana Power of Attorney could become effective upon a disability certified by one or more physicians. An alternative is that the Power of Attorney could be effective immediately, but would survive a disability of the principal. A Power of Attorney that survives a disability is referred to as a "durable power of attorney".

Advanced Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney for Health Care

From a health care standpoint, in addition to a Living Will, you may also grant a health care power of attorney to another person.

Usually a Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Medical Directive would name a close family member as the agent. This health care power of attorney would enable your designated agent to make health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself.   In a situation involving a terminal and irreversible medical condition, a Living Will is the appropriate legal document to control decisions.  A Living Will or the provisions of a Living Will can be incorporated into the health care power of attorney.

Living Wills for Terminal and Irreversable Medical Conditions

A living will is a directive expressed by the patient to withhold or withdraw life sustaining procedures when a person has a terminal and irreversible medical condition.

Many states including Louisiana have enacted laws to enable persons to make such declarations. The law gives immunity to health care providers acting under the direction of a physician in carrying out this directive. A living will declaration can save the terminally ill person and his/her family substantial pain and grief and you should give serious consideration as to whether such a declaration is desirable. If you do make such a declaration, you should consider whether you wish to have hydration and nutrition withheld. If so, this should be stated specifically in the declaration.